Reflection is an essential tool in the process of learning. It doesn't matter what it is you are trying to learn, if you don't take some time to think about what it is you have just done then it is impossible to learn from it. Educational reformer John Dewey sums it up in this simple quote:
"We do not learn from experience...we learn from reflecting on experience"
- John Dewey
It is not enough to simply "do" something, we must think critically and reflect on the action for their to be any learning that can come of that action. This is particularly important to us within the physical education field. How many of use are guilty of asking a student to perform a skill or action within our physical education classes and then never give them a chance to reflect on what they did, how they did it and question why they did it?
While browsing through Twitter one day I came across the tweet below and like so many other tweets I see throughout the day I clicked the link in the hope I would find something that was of use to me and that I could apply to my particular situation at my school. I wasn't disappointed.
Thanks @ccls531 Here's a link "The Reflective Student: The Taxonomy of Reflection" http://t.co/Tm4PZbKJRH
— Peter Pappas (@edteck) February 9, 2015
, an academic at the University of Portland, used Bloom's Taxonomy to create his Taxonomy of Reflection
in an effort to help schools become more reflective learning environments. Immediately as I saw his work I knew it was something that I could use in my classes.
The last few weeks since I discovered this Taxonomy of Reflection at school my students have been taking part in their swimming program, which is run by external coaches at a private pool off campus. This being the case, I haven't had the opportunity to use this taxonomy with my students.
To show you how this taxonomy might be used I have decided to reflect upon my last month, in particular the opportunities that I had to share #PhysEd practice with other professionals. iPhys-Ed.com was started as a tool to assist me in reflecting on my professional practice, so what better way to reflect and share with you than right here.
REMEMBERING: What did I do?
UNDERSTANDING: What was important about it?
Sharing practice and connecting with other educators is a very important part of improving yourself as an educator. I am very lucky that I have been given the opportunity through the connections I have made within the #PhysEd community to share the things I have been doing in my program with others all around the world. As much as I am grateful that others find listening to me speak beneficial, the biggest benefit for me is the opportunity to reflect on what it is that I am doing in my classes. I had a really hard time putting together my Inquiry Based Learning webinar as it really forced me to reflect upon what it is that I do on a day to day basis and synthesize that into a presentation that would be viewed by a large number of people with little to know experience or knowledge of inquiry based practice in #PhysEd. The reflection that took place in this process has given me a much clearer picture of what it is that I do and what I really truly believe about inquiry based learning in #PhysEd.
APPLYING: Where could I use this again?
As I have mentioned before, any time you get to have conversations with other educators, either formally or informally, you can take away so much new knowledge and bring ideas back to your day to day teaching. The new knowledge and ideas I gained in Vancouver, at ECIS PE in Munich or through the conversations that took place either in person at these events on on Twitter using the #hashtags will definitely be used in my teaching practice. Once thing for example was the Parkour workshop that I attended at ECIS PE. This workshop really opened my eyes up the possibilities that exist for bringing non traditional activities that could be perceived as "dangerous" into your physical education program. The way that the workshop was presented and scaffolded really sparked my interest to explore Parkour at my school next year.
ANALYZING: Did I see any patterns in what I did?
If I reflect critically on the presentations I gave I definitely saw some patterns in the way that I presented some of the workshops that I had presented at other conferences and events in the past. My Technology in #SportEd
workshop for example. After running this a few times now at the ACHPER Tasmania Conference
and the ECIS PE Conference, I have come to realise that this workshop contains far too much to be run as a hour long breakout session. For participants to really have the chance to develop an idea of how they might implement a technology infused Sport Education unit, and have the chance to explore all of the technology tools, they would really need a half day workshop. I will be evaluating how I can modify this workshop for a half day/full day format and if you are interested in having me run this workshop at your school or event please email me at email@example.com
EVALUATING: How well did I do?
I always set extremely high standards for myself, its one of the things about myself that can drive me crazy sometimes. For example, I spent almost two hours creating the small evaluating icon you see above, because I wanted it to be perfect.
Fortunately I realise that things are never going to be perfect, just like a lesson or a presentation is never going to be perfect. If I reflect on my month of sharing honestly, I am very pleased with how things went. I felt in particular that I have improved my ability to get a message across in a keynote, or presentation in a much more succinct way than before. I have tried to make a conscious effort to cut out a lot of the fluff and just try to get the essential message across.
In reflection, I have also realised that during a 1 hour breakout session, that the blank look on the faces of participants that sometimes face you as a presenter is not a look of disinterest, but rather the fact that they are processing the new information you are sharing. Sometimes it is better to throw a heap of information, strategies and tools at people and know that some of it will stick straight away and other information will get pushed to the background. The hope is that when these people reflect on their experience that this information that was pushed to the back of their minds will suddenly click and make sense.
So after that long spiel, in summary I was happy with my performance over the past month of sharing.
CREATING: What should I do next?
So where to next? As much as it is a lot of work to prepare for conferences and events like the ones I have been a part of over the last month, nothing will compare to the enjoyment I experience in getting to meet other passionate physical educators and having discussions around how we can improve ourselves and the experience of physical education for our students.
Let's get things straight, there is nothing I love more than being with my students and getting to share and experience physical education with them. That being said, a close second to that is being with other physical educators at conferences and events (especially ones like ECIS PE - for those at the beerhall you know what I mean). I am lucky enough that I over the coming months I will have a few more opportunities to share practice with physical educators in other parts of the world.
I am super excited for the upcoming National PE Institute
in North Carolina in July, and I am also looking forward to again returning to my home state, Tasmania, for the 2015 ACHPER Tasmania State Conference in September where I will have the opportunity to meet and work with the amazing Andy Hair
. I look forward to creating new connections with more passionate physical educators and learning from each other to improve the physical education experiences for all our students.So as you can see the opportunity to reflect has provided me with a lot of learning experiences. It would have bee easy for me to attend these conferences and events and give my presentations and just be happy to travel to new places and meet new people. However to be able to reflect critically on what it is that I did, how I did it, why I did it, and how I could improve it will not only make me a better presenter, but a better physical educator for my students.
A huge thank you to Peter Pappas
for creating this amazing taxonomy of reflection and I look forward to using it with my students. I encourage all of you who are reading to think about the ways that you can reflect on your practice, and also to think about if, how and when you give your students an opportunity to reflect upon their learning in your physical education classes.
Nathan Horne is a Physical Educator based in Singapore and founder of iPhys-Ed.com. Be sure to never miss out on any of iPhys-Ed.com's future posts by connecting with us via Twitter, Facebook or subscribing to our RSS Feed. Nathan can be contacted on Twitter @PENathan or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org